158640 Transnational Public Health - Investigating and Responding to a Lead Epidemic in Seaside, CA and Oaxaca, Mexico

Wednesday, November 7, 2007: 3:00 PM

Margaret Handley, PhD MPH , Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Mario Villalobos Peñalosa, PhD , Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
Celeste Hall, RN , Family and Community Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Claudia Merino , Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
Eric Sanford, MD , Residency Program in Family and Community Medicine, University of California San Francisco, Salinas, CA
James Grieshop, PhD , Department of Human and Community Development, UC Davis, Davis, CA
Background: An on-going public health problem of lead poisoning is affecting Oaxacan-born families in Seaside, California, and in Oaxaca, Mexico. The regular transport of lead-contaminated home-made foods from Oaxaca to California has resulted in hundreds of cases of lead poisoning in a small migrant community in Monterey County, California. The preliminary findings related to the origins of the foods contamination in Oaxaca will be presented, including the integration of diverse disciplines into the investigative methodology.

Methods: A series of investigations have been undertaken: focus groups with case families in California (cases of lead poisoning defined as >10 ug/dl blood); a case-cluster investigation in Oaxaca with extended family members of cases in California to examine food preparation practices/use of lead-glazed pottery; environmental testing of soil, plant and water near former mining sites in Oaxaca; and collaborating with food transport businesses to test foods for lead.

Results: Preliminary findings suggest that soil contamination significantly contributes to lead poisoning in this transnational community. Samples yielding 1000's of micrograms of lead per kilogram were identified in former mining sites in Oaxaca where foods are grown. Additional lead sources that originate from food practices that may release lead from pottery use are under investigation.

Conclusions: Significant soil contamination with lead was identified in a small community in Oaxaca. We believe that this contributes to the large numbers of cases of lead poisoning seen in the Oaxacan-born families in California who have maintained close ties with their families through transported foods.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the sources of lead that are the focus of the transnational investigation presented. 2. Articulate the importance of working across national and disciplinary boundaries to understand transnational communities and their health needs. 3. Develop a frame-work to expand epidemiologic thinking about global health, that includes other disciplines such as anthropology and non-traditional collaborators within different communities.

Keywords: Environmental Health Hazards, Migrant Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.